Voicing optimism, Ban congratulates US President on inauguration

21 January 2009
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with US Senator Barack Obama in February 2007

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today, “with great optimism,” congratulated Barack Obama on his inauguration as the new President of the United States, stressing that America and the Organization share a number of common goals.

Challenges – such as economic turmoil, climate change, peace and security issues such as disarmament and non-proliferation, and the food, energy and development crises – are global in scope and “require strong and collective responses,” Mr. Ban said in a statement.

In Mr. Obama’s inaugural address yesterday, he “was explicit in committing his administration to tackling all of these problems, urgently and decisively,” speaking of the need to tackle global warming, promote clean energy and cooperate with developing nations.

“This is also the work of the United Nations. Our goals are shared,” the Secretary-General stated. “Together, United States of America and the United Nations can look forward to a new era of strong and effective partnership, delivering the results and the change we need.”

The UN Environment Programme also welcomed the swearing-in of the 44th US President, voicing hope in the new leader’s ‘green’ strategy.

One of Mr. Obama’s main election promises was an energy policy to address climate change, spur job growth and curb US dependence on foreign oil and gas. He also said he planned to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and create five million new environmentally friendly jobs.

“Obama’s green jobs strategy could deliver a ‘quadruple win’ – dealing simultaneously with the economic recession, energy security, job creation and emissions,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The incoming US administration is being hailed as “unprecedentedly green,” with the creation of the post of Energy and Environment Coordinator who will serve as Mr. Obama’s ‘Climate Czar.’

Other appointments include Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy and John P. Holdren, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard University, as the President’s Science Adviser.

“These are not political figures [who came] to this issue yesterday,” Mr. Steiner said. “They are some of the most authoritative, competent and knowledgeable people.”


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